Thursday, August 25, 2011

"You Again" (2010)

Starring Kristen Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis and Odette Justman
Written by Moe Jelline
Directed by Andy Fickman
Rated PG - Mild language, rude behavior
Running Time: 105 Minutes

Sometimes, you just need to watch an innocuous, harmless little comedy, right?  "You Again" fits that bill perfectly.  It's PG-rated humor is mildly entertaining, and the film makes no attempts to really push any comedic or dramatic boundaries. 

Marni Olivia Olsen (Kristen Bell, yum) is a put-upon teenager constantly under attack from the vicious head cheerleader, Joanna Clark (Odette Justman).  After Joanna causes Marni to inadvertently ruin an important basketball game for Marni's older brother, Will (James Wolk), he imparts some brotherly advice on her that sticks.  In the years since high school, Marni gains confidence and (of course) smashing good looks.  Eventually, she becomes a high-ranking executive at a powerful public relations firm, and heads home when she hears that her brother is getting married.

To her horror, however, she discovers that Will's bride-to-be is none other than Joanna, who in the intervening years has also turned her life around.  Now a nurse, she dedicates herself to helping others through volunteer and charity work.  Marni is first fearful, and then infuriated when Joanna claims to not remember Marni from high school.  Marni suspects that Joanna's "nice girl routine" is all a big act, and sets out to show her brother exactly who he's about to marry.

At the same time, Marni's mother Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) discovers that Joanna's Aunt Mona (Sigourney Weaver) is her former best friend Ramona from high school, now a fantastically successful owner of a chain of hotels  Just as Marni and Joanna strike back up their rivalry, so do Gail and Mona.  At each event coming up before the wedding, the rivalries escalate.  Despite some sage advice from her grandmother, Bunny (Betty White), Marni continues trying to expose Joanna's past evil ways. 

"You Again" is a serviceable, warm, but unremarkable comedy.  It's rarely laugh-out-loud funny, but there are a good amount of chuckles spread evenly throughout.  There's a solid mix of pratfalls and physical comedy along with wordplay.  The dialogue in the film is delivered quickly and with energy by the talented cast, which is the film's real big shame: with a cast like this, I really wish there had been a better script to bolster it.

You've got Kristen Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Victor Garber and Betty White, along with some fantastic cameo appearances by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Reginald Veljohnson, Patrick Duffy and Hall & Oates.  Those are some excellent names, all very talented performers, but the script is so inoffensive and simple that they all seem wasted.  Most of the film's best lines belong to Betty White, who plays Bunny like a charming cougar, always threatening to hit on some young stud. 

The other problem with the movie is that while we're supposed to sympathize with Marni and Gail over their feeling wronged by Joanna and Ramona, but they come off as the unlikeable ones. Marni goes through so much trouble trying to prove to Will that Joanna is evil, but the problem is that she really has changed, which more than not makes Marni come off as the evil one. 

Still, "You Again" is a mildly entertaining distraction.  The cast carries the film on their talent and presence alone, since the script, though decent, is unremarkable.  There are some great moments, but the film never rises above being merely "okay."

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